New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - March 3, 1999, New Braunfels, Texas
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Vol. 148, No. 73 18 pages in 2 sections March 3, 1999 VIT t x 7 Serving Comal County since 1852 50 cents
Fischer forced out by flames
Fischer resident Dixie Montgomery tells Radio Emergency Association Communication Team member Los Cantrell that her neighbor opted to stay home. Some Fischer area residents were not allowed to return home Tuesday afternoon because of danger posed by the brush fire.
— Officials said about 2,500 acres of land were burned in Comal and Hays counties.
— More than 100 firefighters were called in, representing 1,5 departments from six counties: Comal, Bexar, Blanco, Guadalupe, Hays and Kendall.
— Inmates from the Comal County Sheriffs work program assisted, along with a variety of law enforcement agencies and the Texas Forest Service.
— The fire was contained Monday, but Tuesday’s unseasonable temperatures and high winds caused it to rekindle.
—- Officials planned to stay on watch all night to avoid another flareup.
One of three Army helicopters dispatched to the fire scene on Tuesday flies over a burned field. The helicopters dropped water on the fires.
Johnson City firefighters battle one of the larger hot spots in a grove of trees. Fire personnel from six area counties worked in Fischer on Tuesday.
By Chris Crews and Bill O’Connell
FISCHER — More than IOO firefighters horn six counties battled wildfires Tuesday that charred about 2,500 acres of rugged terrain in northern Comal County.
Fire crews scrambled to escape flames Tuesday afternoon as swirling winds pushed the fires through the hills and valleys near the Hays-Comal County line. Firefighters reported flames up to 70 feet high.
“It just blew up on us late this afternoon. It was jumping ... way beyond what we could control,” said Capt. Darren Brinkkoeter of the Canyon Lake Area Volunteer Fire Department.
A team of firefighters at one point smashed through a property owner’s fence to evade the blaze, Brinkkoeter said.
“We had to ram the fence right here to get out because we were unable to breathe anymore,” he said.
Area residents stood behind roadblocks for hours Tuesday, awaiting word on whether they would be allowed to return home.
Fire authorities said they considered ordering an official evacuation of the Fischer area but decided against it when informed by helicopter crews that no homes were threatened.
“I’d hate to lose my house, but I understand people come first,” said Malibu Hart, who was prevented by Comal County sheriff’s deputies and state troopers from traveling Fischer Store Road to get to her home on Peale Road.
No injuries were reported as a result of the fires, which began Sunday and were rekindled Tuesday when strong winds ignited smoldering embers.
Temperatures in the low 90s and gusting winds made the fires particularly difficult to contain, officials said. Fire crews had to pay close attention to wind direction to avoid being out-flanked by the blaze.
“You’ve just got to watch your back and make sure something’s not coming around behind you and going to cut you off,” said North flays County Volunteer Fire Department firefighter John Clanton.
Blackhawk helicopters assisted fire crews on the ground by collecting water from Canyon Lake and dropping it on the fires all day Tuesday. Fire units filled tanker trucks with water from the Blanco River near the fire scene.
Comal County Sheriff’s Deputy Terry Roberts said, “If that water wasn’t available, there’s no telling how far it would have burned.”
Comal County Judge Danny Scheel said 12 additional officers from the Comal County Sheriff’s Department had been sent to the fire scene to assist with any possible evacuations of residents.
“We have Blackhawk helicopters at the scene and we have agencies from three or four counties surrounding Comal County helping out. We’re doing all that we can possibly do,” he said.
Scheel said the American Red Cross had been notified in case residents were evacuated, and a team of Comal County Jail inmates was assembled to assist with water operations at the scene.
Officials speculated an unauthorized controlled bum caused the grass fires.
Roberts said investigators had identified a possible starting point of the fire and would attempt to contact the property owner sometime today.
If a person were identified as causing a fire that crossed property lines, the only criminal chaige he could face would be reckless damage and destruction of property, Roberts said. The Class C misdemeanor is punishable by a fine not to exceed
$ 1,000 and a jail term not to exceed 180 days.
Roberts said observers would be at the fire scene through the end of the week looking for flare-ups.
More than 15 fire departments sent crews to combat the brush fires, which reportedly began about 4:30 p.m. Sunday. The Texas National Guard was called in to assist in observing the area for fire activity.
Roberts said ready availability of water and help from local construction companies in bulldozing fire breaks played a huge role in limiting the scope of the fire. He also praised Dean Word Company and Krause Construction for dispatching crews and equipment about midnight Sunday to create fire breaks, he said
On Monday Scheel ordered a bum ban for all unincorporated areas of Comal County. Residents are prohibited from burning combustible materials in uncovered containers.
County Engineer Tom Hornseth said the county had secured two areas on private property for burning debris by the contractor hired to clear the Guadalupe River channel. No locations for public disposal of debris had been named, he said.
While most of the main fire was beaten back away from the Fischer bowling alley, many hot spots remained Tuesday night.Kingsbury leading Tech’s offense in spring drills
The Red Raider offense will be led by a former Unicom during spring practices.
Redshirt freshman Kliff Kingsbury assumed the first-team quarterback position after Rob Peters underwent thumb suigery.
For more on the story, see page 8A.
Job expo appeals to students of all ages
By Heather Togo
A community-wide educational and job expo catered to both old and young alike.
Students, professionals, and individuals with disabilities came out in full force Tuesday for a career and community awareness fair at the New Braunfels Civic Center.
Sponsored by Comal, New Braunfels, and Schertz/Cibolo/Universal City Inde
pendent School Districts and Communities in Schools, the expo featured more than 80 exhibitors with free information on social services, post-high school educational opportunities, job training, and career openings.
Students from Comal County middle schools and high schools were bused to the fair during class time to browse booths sponsored by post-secondary schools, trade schools, universities, military branches and local companies.
Martie Rodriguez, director of special education for NB1SD, said 2,000 students were expected to walk through the expo from Marion, Comal, New Braunfels, San Marcos, and Schertz/Cibolo school districts.
“We’re looking for jobs for the summer,” said New Braunfels Middle School student Lara Wilson, who was picking up applications at a South Texas Electrical J.A.T.C. booth with fellow studentSee EXPQ/4A